Frequently Asked Questions

Southwest Washington Grain Project

What is the Southwest Washington Grain Project?

 The Port of Chehalis (Port), in collaboration with regional agriculture partnerships, is working to construct a public grain storage and transloading facility. This facility will allow local farmers to aggregately store and move products via rail. The project will expand opportunities for regional producers and mid-tier grain commerce in the region.  

Thus far, the Port of Chehalis has completed the construction of a rail spur and preliminary site stabilization that has allowed local growers through the Southwest Washington Growers Cooperative to gain partial access to regional buyers.  

Once fully constructed, the facility will provide the conveyance and physical infrastructure necessary to transload small grains from regional producers’ trucks into rail cars and from rail cars into trucks and aggregate storage. The facility will be able to store approximately 12,600 bushels of grain and transload at a rate of 7,500 bushels per hour, with room to expand capacity in the future based on funding.  

1_Vicinity Map
2_Utility Plan
3_Site Plan
4_Phasing Plan
5_Perspective A
6_Perspective B

How was the project identified? Why is the Grain Project important?

Agriculture has long held generational and cultural importance to Lewis County, with many producers and growers representing the third, fourth, and even fifth generation working on their family-owned farms. These local farmers and growers have dealt with flooding and natural disasters, loss of processing facilities, and inadequate infrastructure to support agribusiness for many years. 

With many growers facing loss of income, regional farms were at risk of closing, leaving the community vulnerable to loss of farmlands, which play a key part not only in the local economy but in flood mitigation, natural resources, land development, and preserving regional heritage.  

In response to these issues, a small group of farmers formed a cooperative with the goals of creating and implementing strategies to preserve and enhance the competitiveness of the small and midsize farms that comprise Southwest WA’s cornerstone food production and processing sector. To assess the current and desired state of the market, the Co-op engaged Washington State University (WSU) Extension researchers to survey regional grain producers and potential buyers. Growers and buyers answered questions about the current state of production or purchasing and also forecast what might change given pricing, storage, transportation, and marketing opportunities. The researchers found that the producers were keenly interested in increasing acreage already in grain and adding malting barley to their crop plans. Growers estimated they would increase production across three crops (wheat, oats, and barley) by an average of 116 percent (an estimated increase from 2,676 to 4,800 acres) if they could expect fair pricing and had access to storage and transload infrastructure to support marketing at peak market opportunity. Of the producers surveyed, 76 percent stated they had unmet storage needs.  

Buyer survey outcomes also demonstrated strong interest in sourcing locally and a willingness to pay a reasonable premium for local grain. Sixty-five percent of buyers surveyed indicated that sourcing local grain is “important” to “very important”. The brewing, distilling, and baking markets of nearby urban centers like Olympia, Portland, and Seattle provide an ideal market for locally produced “specialty” grains such as malting barley and heritage varieties of flour grains like wheat and spelt.  

While the study results indicated that malting barley and specialty grains are viable alternatives to some of the food crops once grown in Lewis County, the study authors also concluded that the lack of public storage and transloading infrastructure in Western WA for small and midsize producers and buyers trading fewer than 100, 70-foot rail cars per transaction limits the potential diversification and growth of grain-related agriculture businesses. To address this lack of public infrastructure, the Port of Chehalis (Port) set aside several acres of land and partnered with regional stakeholders to plan the Southwest Washington Grain Project. The Grain Project will provide the infrastructure needed to support regional growers and expand to other areas of agribusiness and rail transloading needs.

Reference Docs:

SWWGP Direct Marketing Case Study 22_12.18_FINAL_OPEN_PRINT



Grain Success Story_9.12.23

SW WA Grain Project_Port of Chehalis_1pager

How does the project help agricultural producers? How does it help area residents?

By improving the economic viability of agricultural businesses and encouraging producers to remain in the industry, the farms can provide long-term ecological benefits to the flood-prone region. The Chehalis Basin Board, which oversees the state’s strategy to reduce flood damage in the region, recognizes that a sustainable agricultural sector in the Chehalis River Basin is inextricably linked to the long-term success of the Chehalis Basin Strategy’s mission of aggressively pursuing flood damage reduction and habitat restoration actions in the basin. Farmlands are uniquely situated to help address both flooding and habitat challenges in the basin.   

In a direct quote from the Chehalis Basin Board, in reference to ambitious enhancement projects addressing flooding and ecology issues within the Chehalis Basin: 

     “The Chehalis Basin Board (CBB) recognizes that a sustainable agricultural sector in the Chehalis River Basin is inextricably linked to the long-term success of the Chehalis Basin Strategy’s mission of aggressively pursuing flood damage reduction and habitat restoration actions in the basin. Farmland, and the farming economy supported by that farmland in Lewis, Grays Harbor, and Thurston Counties, are both significantly affected by catastrophic flooding and uniquely situated to help address fish challenges in the 

Land-based enterprises such as farming lend cultural, moral, and social strength to the region, but the loss of markets and infrastructure threatens the viability of these farm businesses. For example, recent agricultural water rights research conducted in Thurston County indicated that the majority of transfers are from multi-generational farming families to real estate developers. Successful farms support agricultural land use, and increase land value from agricultural production rather than development; the result is a stronger tax base, and less development of farmland for other purposes. 

How long will it take to build the Southwest Washington Grain Project?

While actual construction is dependent on numerous factors, including permitting, engineering and design, contracting, and procurement of materials, the Port hopes to go out to bid on the project as early as 2024 and to have construction completed by fall of 2025.  

Once built, who will be able to use the facility?

Once built, as a public facility, the Grain Storage and Transload Facility will be accessible for public use. The Southwest Washington Growers Cooperative is just one entity that will have access to use the facility through storage and transfer fees. There are a plethora of other creative potential uses, such as farm animal feed or industrial product distribution. Anyone interested in using the facility is encouraged to contact the Port of Chehalis with questions relating to the transload facility, including lease options.

Besides the Port of Chehalis, who else is involved in the project?

The Southwest Washington Grain Project has been a partnership of numerous agencies and entities since its inception in 2018. Along with the Port of Chehalis other partners have included:  

  • Northwest Agricultural Business Center (NABC) 
  • Southwest Washington Growers Cooperative  
  • Lewis County Board of County Commissioners 
  • Economic Alliance of Lewis County 
  • WSU Extension Thurston County  
  • Representatives Abbarno and Orcutt
  • Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez
  • Economic Development Administration
  • And so many more

We have also worked closely with a number of elected officials, local governments, and community boards and organizations throughout the length of this project and will continue to do so as we move forward. We can’t name them all on here, but we wanted to specially thank all organizations that have supported this project indirectly and/or directly. Your support is invaluable to the success of our local agricultural enterprises and we thank you. 

How is the Southwest Washington Grain Project funded?

The first round of funding was granted in 2019, the Port of Chehalis and the Cooperative successfully petitioned the Lewis County Commissioners and were awarded $800,000 from the Distressed Counties Fund for the installment of a rail spur on the Port’s property. The rail spur was completed in the spring of 2020 and allowed growers to transload grain that summer using temporary conveyance.  

In 2020, the Port was awarded 1.75 million through the Washington State Capital budget to support the project further, thanks to the commitment of Reps. Abbarno and Orcutt. These funds are distributed through the Washington State Department of Commerce.  

Due to the efforts of the Port of Chehalis staff, Northwest Agricultural Business Center, and numerous elected officials, organizations, and stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) has recently awarded $3.14 million through its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Funding Opportunity. This funding will allow for the construction of a publicly accessible rail transload facility comprising upright grain bins and conveyors for loading and unloading grain.  

Further, in March 2024, we were notified that the Southwest Washington Grain Project has been allocated $4.12 million through Community Project Funding (CFP) thanks to the efforts of Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. We are thrilled and honored to be one of 15 identified projects to receive funding in Southwest Washington and we look forward to further developing the Southwest Washington Grain Project with bolstered funding.  

Does the Southwest Washington Grain Project add jobs to the region?

The Southwest Washington Grain Project is predicted to retain and create an estimated 44 jobs. Many of these jobs would otherwise be lost as small regional producers have to contract or close their farms without the ability to transition to marketable and small grains. Jobs will also be added to operate and maintain the grain facility and the resulting public infrastructure will help retain and expand jobs in food production and ancillary occupations such as truck driving, diesel and tractor mechanics, and fertilizer producers. 

What is a public-private partnership? Why is it beneficial?

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a popular way of creating infrastructure and completing projects. A public-private partnership is a collaboration between government agencies and private-sector entities that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects such as infrastructure projects. This allows projects to be completed sooner or even be made possible at all, in some cases. A PPP will typically have a contract period of several years or longer. The public agency may build the facility, but the private sector will pay for the use of the facility and may contribute to fund sourcing, designing, and implementing the project. This frees the Public Agency from needing to fund the operations of a facility once completed. It’s important to note that even when a project is built via PPP, the facility is still owned by a public agency and thus a public facility. No private entity will have sole use of the facility.  

Will the Port run the facility once built?

The Port of Chehalis is a non-operating port; this means that the Port owns the infrastructure and rents or leases to a facility operator. The operator invests in any additional equipment, hires the staff, and manages the users. The Port’s role is to create and construct the facility, and its goal at this time is to remain a non-operating port and allow others to staff and run its own, successful operations.  The intent of this project is to have a third party operator, and only if necessary would the Port consider taking on that role.

To learn more about Operational and Landlord Ports, visit 

Will there be future expansion on the Southwest Washington Grain Projects?

The Southwest Washington Grain Project is situated to facilitate future related projects in agribusiness and correlated industries. The project site is located on Maurin Road in the Port’s Business & Industrial Park as part of a larger parcel that could hold future development. While Southwest Washington Grain Project will be operational on its own, future development could expand its offerings including additional storage silos or bins. The rest of the land could house multiphase development, depending on future funding and partnerships.  

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